If you are lucky, when a patient has a complaint or concern about the service they received in your practice, the patient will actually inform you – rather than just leaving your practice and telling their friends about the bad experience. Depending on the patient, this negative word-of-mouth could potentially result in significant patient loss from your practice. It’s important to remember that complaints received from patients can be a blessing when it comes to patient retention.
How you choose to handle complaints is very important. People want to feel heard, and they want to see action. Be aware of your patients; try to keep tabs on who knows who, and who referred who.
Social media reviews can also have a profound impact on your practice. If you have great reviews, social media is an amazing tool to add to your marketing. However, if you have negative reviews, social media can easily turn into one of your biggest nightmares.
Your team should be gracious when a patient is kind enough to bring their complaint to your attention. Who in your office hears the majority of complaints when there is a problem in your practice? Most people would be inclined to answer “the front office” without a doubt. However, this may not be true – it could be anybody in your practice. Patients are most likely to discuss their concerns with the person they trust the most in your practice, or the person who they perceive will actually care enough to try and resolve the issue.
Many times, it is actually the hygienist who patients trust the most, as this is who they are seeing on a regular basis. It is often convenient to speak with the hygienist privately, as the patient is in the chair and there are few other team members around. Of course, if the complaint is about the hygienist, they will likely speak to someone else.
Make sure your team knows how to handle complaints. This could make all the difference when it comes to keeping, for example, a family of five who referred ten friends who also come to your practice. Patient satisfaction is paramount.
Does your staff have the power to make decisions on the spot to help the patient? If not, who do they go to – and is this for everything? Every practice has an office policy, but does your staff have the autonomy to bend policy when needed, for the greater good of the practice? It is recommended that your staff is trained on how to handle complaints in your office, no matter how few and far between they are. Team members need to know who to go to first, what they can handle on their own, and how far they can go outside the box if they need to.
Of course, we are not able to make everyone happy all of the time – we are human and mistakes will be made. But the way mistakes are handled by you and your team will make all the difference in the world when it comes to how patients decide to continue treatment, or where they choose to have their treatment done.
We all want a perfect office that runs smoothly 100% of the time. The more prepared your staff is and the more training they have, the fewer complaints you will receive in the first place. When staff are not trained on how to handle certain circumstances, patients end up leaving your office upset, or they hang up the phone and never call back. Make sure team members are properly trained on customer service, office policies, clinical services, materials, and practice systems. As a result, they will be more prepared to have conversations with patients that will help with patient satisfaction and treatment acceptance in the future.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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